Friday, August 15, 2008

NW/NE Divisions Set To Slide?

1) While it is a bit too soon to make our preseason predictions (Check for them in late September), the trends don't appear to be good if your a fan of the NE and/or the NW divisions. Traditionally the strongest of the NHL's 6 divisions, they appear poised to lose that distinction. Fans north of the border, who's teams' make up a large number of those divisions, might be in for a tough year. There hasn't been a Stanley Cup champ from a Canadian based team since the Habs did the trick back in 1993. It doesn't look good that this will change in 2008-09, and many Canadian based teams might not even qualify for the posts season.

2) Teams that we feel are going to be poised for a down turn this year are:

  • Colorado: Going into the season with Budaj and Raycroft as your starting goalies doesn't bode well for a return to the post season.

  • Minnesota: The losses of Rolston and Demitra will be hard to replace. While we don't underestimate the coaching abilities of Lemaire, it might be a tough season in The 'Land O Lakes'

  • Ottawa: For those like us who were keeping track, the Senators after the first 2 months last season, played below .500 hockey. With the loss of Redden, and Gerber now the #1 goalie, we could see this team miss the playoffs entirely

3) In addition to those, several teams that struggled a bit last season will probably continue to not excel next season:

  • Toronto: We believe that even WITH Sundin this team would struggle to make the playoffs, but without him they are all but assured of watching hockey next April.

  • Vancouver: Sundin could still be the wild card here, but without him we don't see their team having the fire power to stay in the top 8 even if Luongo plays at the top of his game

  • Buffalo: Another big loss of a big time player in Campbell. The younger players like Vanek, etc and Miller in goal will have to carry the load, but we are dubious that have what it takes to get back to the elite 8 in the East

4) Of the remainder we can see Edmonton as seeing an improvement over last year, and perhaps even compete for what we believe will be a relatively weak NW division. Montreal in the NE despite relying heavily on some aging vets and a second year goalie should be right back in the chase for the division title along with the Bruins. Overall though at this juncture we would be surprised to see a team from these 2 divisions representing their respective conferences in the Finals next spring. Certainly we would NOT have said such a thing a few months ago. A slide indeed!


czechmate said...

"When God closes a door, he opens a window", right? There's going to be a better balance in scheduling, so those teams will really get smoked, which gives points to non-traditionally successful teams like Columbus and Chicago in the West, and Washington and Florida in the East...

Just sayin', could make things interesting...

Jibblescribbits said...

Why is everyone so down on Budaj. If you look at his numbers and game, he has been pretty decent his short pro career. I know he's unproven, but the limited experience he's had had really shouldn't give anyone that much reason to worry.

Yeah he got beat out last season by a hot Theo (in a contract year) but Budaj didn't lose the starting job, A notoriously goalie bipolar coach threw him under the bus


1) Czech: From what we have been reading Chicago is going to be the favourite team of the media this season. Look for many to predict they will acsend this year.
2) Jibble: We agree that Budaj has looked good at times, but has yet to show that he can be a #1 and play 60+ games/carry the team. They will neeed him to step up this year if the Av's want to make the post season

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